We Are Athletes, And This Is Our Sport

I am an athlete, although I can’t throw a football for more than 10 yards, and my dunking skills leave a lot to be desired. The similarities, however, between myself and the professional ball players is uncanny when you stop and think about it… 

I’m here to discuss the similarities between my sport and the sports that are more commonly accepted by the general public.

Football requires that the athletes condition and train day in and day out for the physical requirements of their sport. They must know the drills and catch the ball when it’s thrown in their direction. They need to block the opposing players entire body force when it’s in the way, and they have to do all of this with their heavy padding on to protect their bodies. 

My sport requires that I climb up mountainsides with a heavy pack on my back. I need to know the terrain, the flora and fauna, and what to do in case of an emergency. I must set up camp with what little supplies I have, and I need to shoot straight every time. Even when my body is telling me to rest, I must keep going. My sport requires that I know the drill, and that I have the physical strength to pack in light and pack out heavy. My uniform is usually torn from the rocks and tree limbs, and although I don’t wear shoulder pads, my rifle has padding on the shoulder strap for comfort during the hike. 

Baseball requires that the players have excellent hand-eye coordination. They need to know everything about their opposing team, and what to do in any situation depending on where the small white ball is at on the field. They need to run fast, dive into the dirt, and instantly recognize the swing of the bat and the sound of the ball hitting wood. 

My sport requires that I have controlled breathing and a steady trigger finger. I need to know the movement of my prey and what each of their steps mean to my game plan. I’m required to run fast across uneven terrain, slide beneath barbed wire fences, control the direction and protection of my weapon, and sometimes fall into position within an instant to get the winning shot. If my eyes are blurry from the heat, or my palms are sweaty from the adrenaline, then I may lose that one moment of opportunity. 

In basketball the teams must work together to get the ball in the net. The individual players have a job on the court, and they each know their place. They run back and forth while keeping their eyes on every other player simultaneously. They need to catch the ball and pass it to their teammates. They know that one small mistake can ruin the game, and they know that all eyes are on them during that one moment of glory when the ball hits their hands. 

My sport requires that I work with my team also. We each have a place on our court. We have a job to do as individuals, and our success is dependent on our teammates successes also. We keep our eyes on each other in the field, and we know where the others are positioned at all times. My sport requires that I know which knot to use for which type of fishing line and species. I’m required to wade through strong current waters with my pack on my shoulders and my hands full of tools. My sport requires that I recognize the species of fish beneath the water and what is required to either capture them for food, or release them without harm. One mistake could ruin the game for me also. All eyes are watching closely, and my moment of glory rests on knowing that this is my championship game. 

In my sport, we aren’t typically paid millions of dollars per year to perfect our athleticism. We don’t have an off season or a training camp. The crowd doesn’t go wild when we achieve our goal in the field, but the roar of the stream or the bugle of the elk is our applause. The trees are our audience, and the birds are the witnesses. The moon is our stadium lighting and the guides are our cheerleaders. 

We are athletes, and this is our sport.

Fortunately, we have a team of millions. Hunters, fishermen, conservationists, and outdoor enthusiasts are all our teammates. And we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that team. We should all work together because every day in the field for us is the equivalent of a Super Bowl Playoff Championship World Series. If that’s even a thing… 

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6 thoughts on “We Are Athletes, And This Is Our Sport

  1. This is fantastic. I’d love to make a short film just on this post. Your second paragraph said it all. The commonly accepted sports in our culture tend to overshadow other sports the require the same, if not more, vigorous training and skill set. After having worked in the outdoor industry, you truly have to be in shape, put in the hours of training, do your homework to know your game, and be willing to literally go that extra mile. It’s not for wimps. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Joel! I know that you’ve been in the field with us, and you know the efforts that we all put into making our sport a great one. Your comments mean so much to me! And I say YES to making a short film about it!

      • Thanks for those kind words. I do enjoy working with you and DL, and always appreciate your desire to be more purpose driven when it comes to filming the outdoors, and producing a TV show that folks would enjoy watching. We should certainly talk more about this short film and make it an extension of this well thought out and needed blog. Thanks Julie.

  2. I see where you are trying to go with this but I think it’s slightly off by the fact that hunting by definition is not a sport.

    “Sport: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

    There are similar elements in that hunting requires some degree of athleticism, practice and dedication but you aren’t competing with others or peers, if you are you are doing it wrong. Sports are for entertainment while hunting is offered as entertainment in today’s culture I wouldn’t make it the purpose or even a theme in hunting.

    I can appreciate the comparison between hunter and athlete, overall I think calling hunting a sport is a massive understatement. It’s way more.

    • Hi Will, Thank you for reading my blog and taking time to comment.I think yours is the only negative comment I’ve had so far on my blog, so congratulations on being the first!..

      I believe that there are many “sports” that are non-competitive. For example, let’s consider the game of golf. It is considered a sport, however, not all golfers are competing against another person. Some are participating for no reason other than their love of the sport. Many extreme sports have led us to redefine the terminology of the word “sport”.
      I see where you’re going with your comment also, but if you’re trying to say that I lessened the importance of hunting by comparing it to other sports then you’re wrong.
      That being said, just because I have an opinion doesn’t make me right.

      In my mind, and when I hunt, there is a competition. If I manage to harvest an animal then I win that round. If I miss a shot or don’t fill my tag, then the animal wins the round. And for many of us this is not a game, but a way of life. If I lose too many rounds then I will have to find another way to put meat on the table for my family.
      In my blog I was comparing the skill and training that we go through to what the professional athletes go through in mainstream sports.
      In no way was I trying to get ESPN to air a version of hunting as a mainstream sport.
      In essence, I think you missed my point by reading too deeply between the lines of my text.

      We can agree to disagree on this one. I enjoyed some of your posts, and I can appreciate the creative differences between people like us.

      Thanks again for getting in touch!

  3. Reblogged this on Julie McQueen… and commented:

    I wrote this a little over a year ago. Love it or hate it, I think I nailed it. And I think our hunting community will agree based on the influx of fitness fanatics that have joined the movement over the past year.

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